Life has not been easy lately for UK-facing and UK-licensed gambling operators over the past few years. Gambling regulators are, seemingly, at war with the industry and cracking down on everything from advertising to how much attention operators are paying to problem gamblers. It’s an atmosphere that isn’t always conducive to good business that’s why Malta-based operator ComeOn, which holds a UK gaming license, is pulling out of the UK market entirely.
ComeOn CEO Lahcene Merzoug maintained a diplomatic tone while speaking to CalvinAyre.com, saying that the company was looking to, “Focus on more favorable markets.” But he also didn’t mince words when it came to the real reason for ComeOn’s sudden exit from the UK gambling market. “U.K. is a very mature and highly competitive market and the financial risks are big. We have never had a non-compliance breach, but we’ve seen competitors being fined big numbers and that creates uncertainty.”
Catching a capricious, and massive, fine is a very real concern for UK gambling operators in an environment where regulators at the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) hand out massive fines for minor infractions with some regularity.
Merzoug went on to point out that the expanding European online gambling market has increased opportunities for operators, making ComeOn less reliant on the UK market. “At the same time, the U.K.-license has lost its symbolic value. Before you almost had to have one to be looked upon as a credible company. Today we hold licenses in many European countries and given that the U.K. has never been a big market for us, it’s a wise move to put our focus elsewhere.”
ComeOne has been operating in the UK since 2014 and will stop accepting UK customers on September 27. The company expects to be fully divested from the UK market by the end of December.